The Ultimate Guide to your Comfort Zone (& Why it's Important for Choosing your Path)

 

Do you want to change your life?

If so, why haven’t you already?

Chances are you feel really stuck where you are.

You want to change your life but don't know where to start. 

Maybe fear is holding you back. Perhaps you don't believe you can do it, you're worried about failing or you're scared about what other people think.

Out of 187 women I've surveyed, 43% said that fear was holding them back from choosing their career path. For some it was fear of failure, others fear of making the wrong decision.

This was exactly how I felt a few years ago when I wanted to quit my job. It took me years to make any progress forwards because I felt too comfortable where I was. But comfortable didn't equal happy!

I was 100% in my little comfort zone and REALLY didn't like to step out of it!

It was probably because a) I wasn't used to getting out of it and b) I was expecting too much of myself. I wanted to jump straight to the things that terrified me instead of taking way smaller steps.

YEARS?! I can't hear you saying, I don’t want to be stuck here for years!

Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to take you that long to move forward. In fact, if you’re willing to feel a little bit nervous you can start getting unstuck almost right away.

It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone but not trying to leap out too far! So here’s your in depth guide to your comfort zone and how to use it to stop feeling stuck and start moving forward! Enjoy!

What is your comfort zone?

If you haven't heard much about comfort zones before here's a nice pic to help you out:

This middle bit (1) is your comfort zone. It's a pretty cosy, safe place and it's so easy to get stuck in here! You have all your basic comforts and necessities but no growth, excitement or adventure! Here's a place you can live but not really feel alive.

The problem also is that the more time you stay in here, the harder it is to get out! Seriously, I think the reason people live long but uninspiring lives is because they're just too comfortable where they are. They're too scared to make any changes in case they end up losing all their comforts.

This may well happen….but because you're reading this I'm going to assume you're a girl who'd prefer some adventure and excitement in her life!

I'm that case I'd like to introduce you to (2), the stretch zone! This is the second band in the diagram and I love it! Seriously, my perspective on fear changed when I learnt about this bit!

Your stretch zone is basically things that are a little bit outside your comfort zone, but with some courage and motivation you can do them without totally freaking out!

They are things that you feel nervous about but are also really excited to do. You might just need a little bit of determination in the moment to actually do them. Can you think of anything that's in your stretch zone right now? It's going to be different for everyone.

3. The final part is your panic zone. This is the outer ring of the diagram. In this zone are things that you probably couldn't make yourself do right now even if you kind of wanted to (unless you got really drunk first!) For me it would be things like base jumping or swimming on a beach where there's been a shark attack (ahhhhhh)!

Before, I was going wrong with trying to face my panic zone fears straight off. This led to a lot of, well, panicking!

The key thing I learnt is to remember that you will be able to do the things in your panic zone (if you actually want to), just not right now. This is because the more you do the things that scare you, the more your comfort zone will grow. So one day, the things that are in your panic zone now will be in your stretch zone or even in your comfort zone then.

I learnt this from one of my favourite books ever - “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by the late Susan Jeffers. She introduced me to the idea that you can grow your comfort zone by doing the things that scare you.

I’d love to add a bit onto that. You can grow your comfort zone by doing the things in your stretch zone that scare you!

By doing things in your stretch zone, they’ll move into your comfort zone and your comfort zone will grow. As your comfort zone grows, so will your stretch zone and the things in your panic zone will move into it.

So you can grow your comfort zone, but why else should you bother doing the things that scares you

1. Grow your self esteem

Challenging yourself and doing things that scare you make you believe in yourself and what you’re capable of. Plus, according to Nathaniel Branden doing the things that you say to yourself you're going to do increases your self esteem. You'll feel happier and will trust yourself more. (From “Six Pillar of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden)

2. Find your purpose

Only by actually taking action and trying new things will you work out what it you want to do with your life. Stepping out of your comfort zone is essential to learning what you love and what isn't quite right for you.

3. Feel proud of yourself

For some reason I really struggle to acknowledge when I'm proud of myself. I try to make myself write down one thing I'm proud of everyday and it’s so hard! But when you know that you've faced a fear and stepped out of your comfort zone you can’t help but feel the pride.

4. Live your life

You're never going to feel alive and like you’re making the most of your life stuck in your comfort zone. Step out of it and really experience the world.

5. Meet new people

Again, staying in your comfort zone means being around the same old people. This can be nice but by stepping out you'll meet new people, make new friends and come across new ideas.

6. Achieve your dreams

Everyone’s dreams lie outside of their comfort zone. Once you’re clear on what yours are, turn them into goals and break them down into tiny steps. Then get started by doing the steps that are in your stretch zone (rather than in your panic zone)

7. Overcome fears

For me, it was the fear of water. I used to even feel panicked swimming in the deep end of the pool or putting my head under water. By breaking my fear down into small steps and pushing myself a little further each time, I completed my PADI open water course last October! Fear of water- overcome!

What can you do right now to start stepping out of your comfort zone?

Here are 3 steps you can take:

Step One: Be aware of what's in your different zones when you go about your day to day life. Notice when you feel panicked about doing something or just a bit nervous. How often do you actually get out of your comfort zone? The next steps will help you step out a lot more!
 

Step Two: Write a list of some things you've always wanted to try. These things need to feel scary but also exciting! They shouldn't just feel dull or like a chore or you'll never get the motivation to do them.
 

Step Three: Break down one of the things you just wrote down into baby steps. You should feel that with some courage (and time!) you could do each one today. The steps shouldn’t make you feel sick with fear! If they do, you need to break them down further. Next, schedule them in!

As you complete each step your comfort zone will grow. Things that seemed impossibly scary will seem achievable and you'll build up to conquering your fears whilst reaching your biggest goals.  How incredible is that?

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life